It was Cinderella Day at the local primary school.
There was a bit of a clue in the fact that the receptionist who greeted
me this morning was wearing a tiara. Not a tiara of the bejewelled variety worn by (female) members of the Royal Family but one of those silver-coloured plastic ones that come with Princess outfits sold in Tescos (and other supermarkets of course.)
“Love the tiara!” I said, cheekily. Well, I could hardly ignore it, perched as it was on the top of her head at exactly my eye level. Which was when she told
me that it was Cinderella Day at school that day.
It was a good thing she told me because the next thing I saw was a teacher in a flowing dove-grey gown which
would not have looked out of place at a society wedding. Hot on her beribboned heels, a bevy of princesses and many a Prince Charming, several in wheelchairs decorated like chariots.
I was there for an introductory tour round the school as part of my initial Induction as a school governor. I was relieved to note that the Chair of the Governors who showed me round was not dressed as a princess. Otherwise I
would have felt seriously under-dressed. As it was, we felt obliged to bow and / or curtsey to all the many princes and princesses we met on our journey round the school. This went down well with the Regal Ones, especially when I wobbled a bit mid-curtsey.
When I was small my dear Mum taught me how to do a proper curtsey. I am not sure why she felt I might need this particular social skill but she clearly envisaged that I might,
one day, have friends in high places. A “proper curtsey” according to my Mum involved clutching at your skirts while pointing one leg forward, then sweeping it in a wide semi-circle from front to back. Then, in a complicated manoeuvre,
you had to lower yourself until your right knee almost touched the ground, remaining in this position for a few vital seconds. Over the course of those seconds you had to remember the two Rules of Successful Curtseying which are (i) do not wobble and (ii)
do not stick your bottom out. I have never, ever seen anyone curtsey in the way my Mum taught me. I wonder if she made it up?
In one classroom the
princesses are doing a good job clearing up, Cinderella style, with feather dusters. There are no Ugly Sisters here, everyone is enjoying themselves. Here is a king, with cloak and crown; here a princess with a sparkly necklace and bright pink leg warmers.
One boy, dressed up as Prince Charming by his proud mamma, felt he was missing out on the glitz and glamour so his teacher had to raid the dressing up box for something princessy. This afternoon a professional theatre group is coming into school to perform
a pantomime. Cinderella, of course.
I meet a young lad dressed to kill, in a three piece suit with natty handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket. “You look very smart!” I tell him, bending
down to wheelchair level. He gives me a toothy grin which would melt the heart of the prickliest of princesses.
This school caters for children with moderate,
severe and profound learning difficulties. I am way out of my comfort zone. I can only hope I will be a good school governor. I don’t know, as yet, everything that will be expected of me – what I do know is that this is no ordinary school.
It is special in every sense of the word.